IFAS | Freedom Writer | September/October 1992 | impressions.html

Institute joins Impressions case

The Institute for First Amendment Studies joined in filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in California concerning the Woodland Joint Unified School District textbook case. The plaintiffs Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association and several parents claim the Impressions reading series violates the separation of church and state by promoting the religion of Wicca. Impressions presents witches in their folkloric sense, not as serious practitioners of Wiccan rituals. Of 800 selections in 50 books, 32 stories are in question.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in California, William B. Shubb, ruled against the plaintiffs, finding their claims unfounded. The American Family Association has appealed the ruling.

The Institute believes the Impressions series is wholly secular in purpose, approach, and effect; there is no showing that the exercises in question were used in a manner that would either promote or denigrate any religion; and their use does not entail excessive state entanglement with religion.

The Institute for First Amendment Studies is joined by the National Association of Laity, the American Jewish Committee, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The Impressions reading series employs the whole language approach to language arts instruction. Many fundamentalists believe the whole language method is a deliberate scheme on behalf of the National Education Association to produce functional illiterates, thus creating an dependent society susceptible to a one-world government. Believing that phonics is the only correct way to learn to read, they find inventive ways to reject whole language curricula.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.